Doug Jones’ win in Alabama was surprising – and that’s the problem

The state of Alabama electing a Democrat to the U.S. Senate for the first time in twenty five years is an incredible surprise. Doug Jones beat Roy Moore, the Republican candidate so repugnant that Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, said two days before the election that he couldn’t vote for him; that “Alabama deserves better.” It’s a surprise because it’s Alabama; unashamedly Republican to the point that in 2014, when the now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions won the election for the seat, the Democrats didn’t even field a candidate.

The problem, is that Doug Jones the Democrat beating Roy Moore the Republican should not be a surprise when you consider all the aspects of Moore’s character that make him a candidate so hideous that even Mitch McConnell spoke out against him. He has been accused of anti-Semitism (a charge his wife tried to hilariously bat away by stating at a campaign rally “one of our attorneys is a Jew” in a rebuttal so shit it stands out even in a Trump presidency which really is top of the class in shit rebuttals.) He referred to Native Americans and Asians serving in the U.S. military as “reds and yellows”, said that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, and that homosexuality should be illegal.

And because clearly Moore wasn’t finished in ruining his utterly shit candidacy, a Washington Post report accused him of molesting a fourteen year old child when he was thirty two. Other allegations followed of him dating teenagers when he was a thirty-something lawyer. Every decent person agreed that Roy Moore was a terrible human being.

But still the result of the Alabama special election was a surprise. Jones won by 1.5%, a margin of just over 20,000 votes (one that Roy Moore doesn’t recognise, he still refuses to concede, despite even the White House saying he should). It is Alabama, a deeply red state which as said earlier hadn’t previously elected a Democrat to the senate since 1992, but if an accused child molester can get within 1.5% of a seat at one of America’s most powerful tables, then serious questions still need to be asked. If the Republican primary had ended with Senator Luther Strange being selected as the candidate, they would have won the election as easily as they had in the past, but once Roy Moore was selected, and once the allegations of child molesting came out, it should not have been a surprising result when Jones was declared the winner, and it should not have been as close as it was.

It would be naïve to suggest that one horrible, hideous candidate would change years, and even generations worth of voting patterns, but the state of America is incredibly questionable when over 650,000 people can either push the character of Moore out of their consciousness while voting Republican, because they always have, or, more worryingly, believe in Roy Moore and what he says and what he stands for. Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times this week said to the Alabamians who voted for Doug Jones: “Thank you.” It needs saying, because if the turnout among African-Americans hadn’t been so high, and if so many who had previously experienced nothing but loss voting for Democrats in Alabama had stayed home too, then Roy Moore would be going to the Senate.

Though if one is to thank all those who voted for Doug Jones, one also has to ask all those who voted for Roy Moore – what the fuck? It should be unthinkable to vote for a candidate accused of molesting a child, irrelevant of which party’s ticket they stand on. But this is Trump’s America, where apparently all of Moore’s hideous qualities are not a hindrance to securing a Republican nomination.

But then that aspect of the story is not a surprise. Why would the Republicans nominating a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic child molester be a surprise when you consider the giant orange buffoon who probably uses the nuclear football as a footrest while he tweets whatever bile comes into his tiny brain? Mitch McConnell didn’t want Roy Moore in the Senate, but he sits by while Trump is President, and if you let Trump be President, a man who revelled in insulting many of the same groups as Moore has while running in 2016, and who has multiple sexual harassment allegations against him too, then the Roy Moore’s are going to keep running.

Candidates like Moore are the worst habits of America, and Donald Trump is the enabler. His presence in the most powerful seat in the world allows racists, homophobes and even those who are accused of incredibly serious crimes, think that they can still run for seats in power. But his enabling is also more than symbolic. He may have backed incumbent Senator Luther Strange in the primary, but he backed Moore once it got to the election, recording a robocall, and ensuring that the Republican National Committee reinstated its funding of Moore’s campaign. Stephen Bannon also attached himself to Roy Moore’s campaign, and Trump’s former Chief Strategist has said he will wage a war against the GOP establishment candidates in the primaries for the 2018 Senate seats.

So more candidates like Roy Moore are coming, and if Mitch McConnell wants establishment GOP candidates running for the Senate, he needs to act against his President. He needs to ensure Roy Moore-style candidates are seen for the horrible people they are, and that voting for them would be considered shameful. While Trump is in the White House, their brand of politics is the mainstream.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri